It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill.
~ Wilbur Wright

Welcome back to all those who might have been enjoying wonderfully quiet corners on a couch or dancing happy toes in cool water. Your Educator team is on a long mission to better personalize the user experience for you and your students. We have sketched a strategy, and your input continues to be a big part of it. Why mention this today?

Credit Ben Cooper - New Horizons Liftoff - 1/19/06

Credit Ben Cooper –
New Horizons Liftoff – 1/19/06

On July 14, 1965, Mariner 4 captured the first flyby images of Mars. This began the closeup portfolio of other planetary portraits. The above photo was snapped on January 19, 2006, when the fastest launch ever left Cape Canaveral and zoomed by the moon just nine hours later. The spacecraft then flew by Jupiter (365 million miles!) the following year. Now after more than nine years, the New Horizons spacecraft will finally cap the fifty-year mission to explore our own solar system. In less than 24 hours the New Horizons spacecraft will make its closest approach to Pluto. Learn and see more at NASA’s New Horizons website. We admire great vision and execution, and we wanted to share this with you.

Master Notify

BTW … we added a little something since we were here last week. This began with your email …

When a TA grades an assignment and provides feedback – and the student RESPONDS to that feedback, it is sent back to the TA as an email – – sounds correct and groovy so far HOWEVER — therein lies the problem. The response from the student ONLY goes to the TA and does not get copied to the Master teacher.

Proposed Solution:
Is there a way to add a check box under the “Email grade/comments to” field that says “Master Teacher”? If this box is checked it would automatically CC the Master teacher on the feedback left by the TA **AND** if the student responds, it keeps the Master teacher in the communication train???

Give it a try, and let us know how it helps.


We hope you appreciate the New Horizons mission. We also trust you will enjoy our Educator mission.

These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise.
Its five year mission … to boldly go where no man has gone before.

~ Gene Roddenberry

With Greater Force

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You’re on your own, and you know what you know.
And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
~ Dr. Seuss

Forcing things might not always be fun, but it’s often necessary, right? You know there’s at least one more brushing in that tube of toothpaste, so you just have to force it out.


Or you might to choose to force your kids to at least taste the chicken livers on their plate at grandma’s house. Have you ever forced yourself to get out of a perfectly comfortable bed from under perfectly cozy sheets on a way too early Monday? You might have to force that last pair of shoes you had to pack into your suitcase.


Yes, forcing is often necessary, and it often helps get the job done. So, we’re back with some rather useful Educator forcing scenarios you might like to play. It’s a simple matter of follow-the-leader, and you are the leaders!


There have been some suggestions about making the Forcing page even more useful. A new Quick Fill feature has been added. First we will take a brief tour of forcing. It all starts here:


Unless you set other conditions, all students will be directed to this resource upon login. Student login is controlled by your Forcing Override selection.


Do you want every student to know that you are on vacation this week? Do you want them all to see the same page/image no matter what grade level or weeks active? Select YES in this override. Speaking of grade level and weeks active, you can now create your own Forcing Rules!


This is where you go to create those rules. These will override the course wide forcing page you setup in #1 above. Please note that in order for these rules to apply, you must have selected the default NO in the Forcing Override box (#2 above). When you click Add Forcing Rule, you will be presented with the Add Rule window. Give your rule a name and select the criteria. These rules are of your own creation.

F5_Add Rule

The conditions are grade level or weeks active. You might create rules for every week in your course, with all week one students getting Object ID 1234 and week twenty students seeing 5678. Maybe you want all seniors to see your graduation tips while ninth graders get study tips. Whatever login screen you might imagine can be delivered based on rules. Your rules will appear in the Forcing Rules table. The rule order can be changed with simple drag and drop. Rules can also be readily edited or deleted as needed. There are three important points to remember regarding the rules in this table:

1 – Only one rule will apply to a particular student.
2 – Rules are applied in the table order. Rule#1 takes precedence over Rule#2.
3 – Any Individual Forcing Condition will override a Forcing Rule.

Do you remember the Individual Forcing Conditions? Visit this blog entry for a quick refresh on the idea. A few of you have commented on how great it would be to more easily apply individual rules to certain groups of students in your classes. You will now be able to filter your class roster and COPY DOWN a rule to those listed students.

F6_Individual Fill

First, filter your list however you like. Then fill out the Quick Fill section with your selected resource and optional dates. Hit the Quick Fill button. The resource and dates will populate throughout your filtered list. That’s a Quick Fill and COPY DOWN!

PLEASE NOTE: Before you click SUBMIT review your selection. If there is any mistake hit the RESET button. There is no quick undo for a submitted individual rule. You will have to redo these selections in order to make any correction. In other words … measure twice and cut once.

Force Yourself

We’ve also been asked about setting your point of entry into any particular course. For example, you always want to open your course in your workload. That’s exactly the use case for the Force Me section.


Use the down arrow on your keyboard to scroll through your options:

  • Student Forcing
  • E-mail Inbox
  • Assessments
  • Student List
  • Gradebook

You can set each of your individual courses to take you to any of these highlighted links upon login:


Go ahead. Squeeze that tube of toothpaste just a little more.

All her life she had wanted to squeeze the toothpaste …
really squeeze it, not just one little squirt …
The paste coiled and swirled and mounded in the washbasin.
Ramona decorated the mound with toothpaste roses, as if it was a toothpaste birthday cake.

~ Beverly Cleary, Ramona and Her Mother


The only thing you sometimes have control over is perspective.
You don’t have control over your situation.
But you have a choice about how you view it.

~ Chris Pine

When an artist puts pencil to paper, perspective tends to be a most important component.


What is perspective? Merriam-Webster offers the following definition: The technique or process of representing on a plane or curved surface the spatial relation of objects as they might appear to the eye. That makes sense. It is one way of describing perspective. There are other ways of looking at perspective …


The Free Dictionary goes a bit farther and adds a new dimension along with some variations:

  1. An understanding of how aspects of a subject relate to each other and to the whole;
  2. Subjective evaluation of relative significance; a point of view;
  3. The ability to perceive things in their actual interrelations or comparative importance.

These add new perspective to the meaning we currently have in mind.

I like to turn things upside down, to watch pictures and situations from another perspective.
~ Ursus Wehrli

You bring us new perspectives. Thank you. No matter how long it takes you to help us understand, and no matter how long it takes us to get around to the nitty-gritty, we have managed to remain good for each other, a good team. Perspective is exactly what you bring to us here on the Educator team. We spend so much time with lines of scripted code and files in containers that we could easily forget the real purpose of our mission, striving to attain service excellence in the world of teaching and learning. Educator looks very different from your point of view. It works differently today because of your point of view. You help us see how different that world can look:


AIW photo by Peter Birtolo

Smith Creek photo by PeterB

Fresh looks yield new ideas in our landscape. A new perspective can even make a familiar city look new and different.

Milwaukee Morning photo by DanG

Milwaukee Morning photo by DanG

Seeing things with new eyes goes a long way in our business. Improving the user experience demands walking in the user’s shoes. Thanks for sharing.

If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.
~ Henry Ford

We’ll be back next week with some new enhancements from your perspectives. Until then, enjoy your groundbreaking summer holiday. Celebrate your independence, and feel to share your thoughts with us.

When you really listen to another person from their point of view, and reflect back to them that understanding, it’s like giving them emotional oxygen.
~ Stephen Covey

A Little Speed

I’m going to focus on speed, doing little things like my turns and my starts – just speed.
~ Ryan Lochte


Someone graciously holds the door open for you. Your chair is pulled out for you, when you sit at the table. A driver lets you turn left in front of him. One second in a race, one field goal, one smile, one hug … it’s amazing how little things can make some big differences, isn’t it?

Honors Note

This one just bothered us. We take full credit for achieving this balance. The student grade report did not show which assessments were designated as honors assessments! The familiar red “Honors” text will now be displayed and make us happy.


Student Help

This idea came from an entry on our Facebook page:

When teachers pull up a student’s grade report, we can see a breakdown of both Segments 1 and 2. However, when students pull up their gradebook, they can only see a breakdown of the entire class.


This does not help them when looking at an individual segment and how they can improve their grade. Can you add the breakdown of the individual segments for the students to see?

This now appears below the student’s grade report:


Clicking Zero

Someone sent this our way via email:

I was wondering if your team could make the “zero unread emails icon” clickable as well. Sometimes I want to see if I sent a student a resource already. I can click on it when there are unread messages, but not when it is “zero.”

You could check your SENT items, but that’s another step and a hunt. Now all email numbers will be your clickable portal into the student’s Educator inbox. Welcome the zero!



Email Speed

This email has been staring us in the face:

Educator email processing is worse than dial-up processing. I have literally answered an email, gone to the kitchen and poured a cup of coffee, come back to the computer and am on my third sip before the wheel stops turning…. the firs time. Then it starts up again and I am stuck for another minute or two before I can get back to what I was doing in Educator. My productivity is egregiously affected by this situation.

Wow! Let’s just say that we appreciate all your insights, both positive and negative. This is an enhancement you will not likely see with your eye. It all depends on how large your inbox has grown.

The big change here occurs whenever a user changes courses. Educator will then initiate a background process that will cache your email inbox. This SHOULD improve the viewing speed of your full inbox and the viewing of individual email messages as well. In tests with more than 600 messages, the inbox response time went from about 12 seconds down to 3 seconds. For smaller inboxes the speed difference may not be quite as noticeable. Please let us know your experiences here.

People think of these eureka moments, and my feeling is that they tend to be little things, a little realization and then a little realization built on that.
~ Roger Penrose

Eighteen Minutes


A little bird came along and landed on the developers’ window ledge today. The little bird spoke, “It’s the end of the year, and we could really use a simple export of the Usage Log.”

The developer replied, “You could probably just copy and paste it yourself into Excel.”

And the little bird answered with a smile, “ True. But you know how we like saving time, don’t you?”


It’s out right now … 18 minutes after the bird first spoke!
We’re just letting the rest of you know.

Summer Almost

In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.
~ Tom Bodett

Some of our WeatherSTEM work takes us to many brick-and-mortar schools scattered around Florida and even beyond. We have overheard many comments about the recent barrage of testing that has washed over teaching schedules like a flood. Teachers seem to have become testers or proctors, and learners have learned to sit in silence and sharpen their pencils.


On a livelier note … classrooms are being cleaned, walls have been cleared of papers and posters, and people are smiling more than two weeks ago. Do the smiles bloom because the past year is over or in anticipation of the fresh new possibilities poised just a few weeks away? No matter how or where we work … it seems that twice a year we do take a pause, a break from routine. Late December and June are those times we tend to reflect and plan. We relax a little, and then we make those resolutions, commitments to take action, and plans to make changes. Did we subconsciously learn this power cycling and get into this seasonal curve in our own childhood school days?


Your Educator developers are much the same. Yes, they are programmers, but they are also programmed! Looking back over the past few months, you have helped us build significant enhancements in our learning and teaching platform. If you have never seen our collaborative enhancement list, then a quick look here will showcase some of your past suggestions in action. So, what’s going in EducatorLand this summer?


We have many major projects that are taking shape.

  • The short list includes many administrative and accessibility enhancements.
  • There are new pilots and integrations taking place to drive us closer to truly prescriptive and personalized learning.
  • The dynamic pace chart pilot has been tweaked and is moving along quite well.
  • The internal gradebook database is being restructured.
  • Speaking of grades, there will be more granular assessment reports available for your course developers.
  • Integration with another student information system for the full-time program and the addition of letter grades for elementary grades are being developed.
  • Our developers are revamping your Turn It In integration which was the first of its kind.
  • New question types are being added for curriculum developers.
  • Global Services will see an improved public LTI interface.

Then there are the surprise tools and new editors for teachers and students that will debut this fall. It’s going to be a fun summer!

We don’t stop going to school when we graduate.
~ Carol Burnett


What about you? Are you finally going to do something you’ve wanted to do? Maybe take a few days with your feet somewhere near the water and an umbrella in your glass?

A final quote for your reflection and possible comment


To this end the greatest asset of a school is the personality of the teacher.
~ John Strachan

Two of Three

Now don’t be sad,
Cause two out of three ain’t bad.
~ Jim Steinman


Three updates went out this week. The Educator administrators have theirs. That leaves two more to share with you. One you get to see right now; the other will roll out sometime before Monday morning. We will post the release on our Facebook page when number two is ready for you. Your suggestions initiated both of these enhancements. To those words …


I love the assessments icon on my teacher login page. Is it possible to have it show the number of items in my grading queue – similar to the way the email shows number of messages – so I can take a quick glimpse of my workload as soon as I log in? I would love to have this quick snapshot of my “to do” list! Thanks!!

And again three weeks later …

When I get an email, I love seeing that a little red box pops up telling me how many emails I have. Is it possible to do the same thing for assessments? That way, if it is clear, I know I don’t have to click on it.

Have you ever sat there thinking about whether or not you have a lot more work than you care to discover? Did you ever decide NOT to look behind the closed door rather than walking into that dark room? It can be pretty scary, right? We think of this enhancement as turning the lights on before walking in.


You get the idea. Lights on!


This came into us via email recently …

… We have to be able to support or refute whether a student’s performance is markedly different from his/her peers, despite interventions, and that there is a need to collect additional information through processes like screenings for processing disorders, vision, hearing, etc.

The goal here is clear … to see how a particular student is performing on assessments when compared to other students in the same course shell. This could prove valuable when engaged in conversations with supervisors. It might also be helpful in team dialogues or curriculum meetings.

PLEASE NOTE: This will be released by Monday.
It might be later today, tomorrow, during GOT episode 8, or Monday morning breakfast. It will be before Monday lunch!

How will it work? You will actually be able to request a report. While it will not be immediate, it won’t take long. The report will look something like this:


It will be attached to an Educator email. The SUBJECT line of that email will be similar to: Compare STUDENT ID to COURSE NAME report. It will be a color-coded Excel file with data fields and calculations as shown. You will be able to extract or customize as you see fit. If you have other calculation ideas for this report, feel free to let us know.

You can request this report from the ACTIONS menu in either the Course Roster or any Student Gradereport.


You (Teacher or TA) will then be presented with a brief notice indicating that your report has been queued and will be sent to your Educator inbox:


The wait will not be long at all. It depends on how many requests are lined up at the time. You know we do try not to waste your time.

Check our Facebook page for the prime-time release of the student comparison, and give it a whirl. Ask your questions. We have been slower than usual in recent days on replies, but you know what it’s like at the end of the school year.


Big wheel keep on turning,
Proud Mary keep on burning,
Rolling, rolling, rolling on the river.
~ John C. Fogerty, Proud Mary

Sneak Peek

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
~ The Wizard of Oz


How would you like to see what’s going on behind the curtain? There is a catch here, and you might want to stop reading right now. Why is that? First of all … you can’t even have it today. That’s not exactly true. One of you will have this today in one of your course shells. The rest of you will just have to wait. This is in pilot phase right now … one course and one teacher. After some more tests and feedback, it will be rolled out to an ever-widening group. It’s your choice whether or not to continue reading here now. Let’s take a peek!


One of the biggest challenges in online course delivery and communication has been pacing. It can be very tedious to keep students aware of the pace they need to maintain. It has also been a challenge to know who is on pace and who has slipped behind or fallen off the road. Many of you spoke loudly and clearly about this at our last conference gathering. We have not forgotten you! In fact … our development team has worked very hard writing and rewriting the code to get to tonight’s rollout of one. There were folks at FLVS with whom we needed to collaborate as well. Are you still with us?

The Pilot

Working with FLVS, we incorporated into Educator the time it should take a student to complete a lesson AND assignment. This information was imported into Gradebuilder:


Needing a starting point, we agreed to set a student’s pace as working for one hour per day for five days in a week. Beginning with a student’s start date and taking into account segment enrollment, exempted assignments, and honors status, a pace chart with due dates is created for each student. When viewing a student’s gradereport, the teacher sees the calculated due date and actual submitted date:


The rows are color-coded in order to provide graphic clues:


Teachers will also be able to enter the Pace Planner for any particular student and adjust the pace EITHER by entering the intended END DATE or budgeting a set number of HOURS PER WEEK for the student. At this time the developers did not leave this open for students to navigate.


Students will also gain new functionality through this enhancement. The student workload will reflect due dates. Their color scheme will reflect work/assignments that are DUE IN 5 DAYS, already LATE, or CURRENT.


The student CALENDAR will also be populated with assignment due dates:


While you are reading this, there is one teacher in one course with one class of students who are all experiencing the Dynamic Pace Chart. There will likely be some tweaks and suggestions put into place in the coming days and weeks before the expanded group joins. Thank you for allowing us to share what has been going on behind our curtain. Feel free to share your own thoughts.

It’s fun to peek into other people’s worlds and see how they go about doing things.
~ Norah Jones

Picture Push

Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.
~ Arthur Brisbane


We’re introducing some new pictures today!

icons_rolesWe began with your course roster.

We were told it would be helpful for you to note what listed “members” on your roster were not necessarily students. Two new icons will now help distinguish any users who are NOT visible to students in your course.
These are teaching assistants and other users who are invisible for one reason or another.

Moving along, we decided to tastefully add some pictures and color to files. These icons will appear in appropriate places like the assignment feedback page, any folder views, and when viewing file pages. These are samples from the Common Folder area:


You’ll find new, colorful graphics for Office files, video files, images, and more.

Some time ago we introduced an expanded ability for students to upload video files. We have been testing this system in a couple of courses for months. We are releasing this capability to all courses. Students will now be able to upload videos up to 250MB in size in all courses! The total single upload size for all files is now increased from 75MB to 500MB for video files.


Please note: those videos will be transcoded down to a smaller resolution and quality. Students will be notified of this whenever they upload a video file. This helps reduce disk usage and bandwidth bottlenecks. Let us know what you think.

Finally we have one comment from you to share …

Good Morning, it would really help if in the forcing slides page, the grade of the student shows as well. As I place forcing slides for seniors or other group this would make things faster. Thanks.

Visit the Forcing page and SET INDIVIDUAL FORCING CONDITIONS at the bottom.


We have had numerous requests to make this easier to execute, specifically for seniors. When you view the individual forcing conditions, each student will now show their grade level. New filters have been added to take advantage of this new data point. Thanks for thinking!

A composer is a guy who goes around forcing his will on unsuspecting air molecules, often with the assistance of unsuspecting musicians.
~ Frank Zappa

One Question


Joseph Joubert (1754-1824)

It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.
~ Joseph Joubert

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) was a French man of letters who wrote on philosophical, moral, and literary topics. He actually published nothing during his lifetime.
He wrote in notebooks or on scraps of paper and later stored these in a trunk.

Some other quotes attributed to Joubert that have a bearing on what we do include …

– Children need models rather than critics.
– Ask the young. They know everything.
– To teach is to learn twice.
– The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.

That’s exactly the point here … we have one question for all of you. We don’t want to argue. We just want to listen to your discussion, and we want to make progress. More on that coming up. Feel free to comment here, on our Facebook page, or via whatever channel you like. We were recently puzzled by this comment …

When teachers pull up a student’s grade report, we can see a breakdown of both Segments 1 and 2. However, when students pull up their gradebook, they can only see a breakdown of the entire class. This does not help them when looking at an individual segment and how they can improve their grade. Can you add the breakdown of the individual segments for the students to see?

The dialogue was later continued …

For example, instead of just seeing total points earned, current percentage, and overall percentage it would be great for students to also see this for just Segment 1 and just Segment 2. The problem is that they cannot easily see how many points they would need to earn to raise their grade to an A or a B for each Segment.

Are you still hanging in there? (We’re getting closer to the question.) We discussed these comments in our meetings and looked at the situation. Pretend you have a student who HAS SUBMITTED WORK that was already graded in BOTH segments. This is similar to what would appear to the student (and the teacher) at the top of the student’s grade report:


This should certainly look familiar. Note the graphs reflecting work SUBMITTED AND GRADED in both segments. When the student navigates to the bottom of his/her own report, this is what’s there:


When the teacher (you!) navigate to the bottom of an individual student’s grade report, this is what you actually see:


You get to see a lot more! Please note the segment breakdown for points earned out of the total possible. Also note the CURRENT percentage based on work submitted against the possible points therein and the OVERALL percentage based on all work available in the segment. There is a lot more detail here regarding the student’s grade.

The Educator team discussed the matter, and we scratched our heads. At one time we had scripted Educator to display all that information for the student. Now it doesn’t, and we cannot remember why! So here’s your question …

Should all segment data (as in the teacher view above) be displayed for the student?
Feel free to tell us why or why not.

Please let us know what you think here. We’d like to go back to what makes sense to us, but we do not want to overlook any reason to keep the status quo. Thank you!

bilbob“Go back?” he thought.
“No good at all!
Go sideways? Impossible!
Go forward? Only thing to do!
On we go!”
~ Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit